Showing posts with label swing states. Show all posts
Showing posts with label swing states. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Electoral Vote Counting 53 Weeks in Advance

FHQ doesn't know that any new ground was broken yesterday when both the RNC and an anonymous Obama administration official revealed at least some information about their likely target states for the 2012 presidential race. I say that simply because none of it is terribly revealing in the first place. A look at FHQ's Electoral College Spectrum -- particularly the middle column -- shows that the list below is predominantly comprised of states that were the most competitive in 2008.

Table 1: The Electoral College Spectrum1
1 Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.
2 The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, McCain won all the states up to and including Colorado (all Obama's toss up states plus Colorado), he would have 275 electoral votes. McCain's numbers are only totaled through the states he would have needed in order to get to 270. In those cases, Obama's number is on the left and McCain's is on the right in italics.

3 Colorado is the state where Obama crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That line is referred to as the victory line.
4 Nebraska allocates electoral votes based on statewide results and the results within each of its congressional districts.  Nebraska's 2nd district voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

That the RNC is going on offense in traditionally close states and states that flipped to Obama and the Democrats in 2008 is no real surprise. Nor is it a stretch to consider that Obama is staring down the reality of playing more defense in 2012 as a known quantity -- as an incumbent. The only target for offense mentioned in the Obama administration official's thoughts was Arizona. But let's have a look at the states listed in the RNC strategic memo:

Table 2: 2012 RNC/DNC Targets -- Presidential Battleground States
StateEVsRed to Blue in '08?Traditionally Blue?Traditionally Red?2004 Margin12008 Margin2












1 Source: Leip's Atlas
2 Source: Leip's Atlas

Note that, as is the custom in this time of the cycle, the RNC has cast its net widely. That is not to suggest that the DNC is not also considering states Obama may or more appropriately may not win next November, but it is usually the party on offense that can be and actually is a bit more aggressive in terms of the states it is considering. There were times in 2008, for instance, when the polling looked not necessarily good but promising in states like the Dakotas, Montana, Georgia and even Alaska before Palin was added to the Republican ticket in the late summer. Did that mean that Obama would have won those states after all was said and done on election day? Probably not, but there comes a time in every general election campaign where the tough decisions have to be made about which states to focus on. North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado were much more realistic to Obama than, say, Georgia or Arizona. In the same way, the RNC is able to throw a few states on the board that the eventual nominee may not win, but are intriguing possibilities nonetheless.

[Note also that the fifteen states in the table immediately above are ordered roughly in terms of how close the margin was between Obama and McCain in 2008. Another way of thinking about this is that the closer a state was in 2008, the hypothetically easier it will be for the Republican candidate to flip it in 2012. Those states moved largely in line with the national average shift in the vote from 2004 to 2008.]

Some states, however, are more or less intriguing than others. The "Red in 2004, Blue in 2008" states at the top of the table are more realistic targets for the GOP than some of the "lean blue" states that may be close in a more competitive presidential election year but crested above a 10% margin in Obama's favor in 2008. Are they pie in the sky states for Republicans? Perhaps, but they are steeper climbs for the Party of Lincoln than they are for Obama and Democrats to maintain. If the average shift in the vote is large enough they may shift too, but that would require a larger shift.

History is not always the best predictor -- Obama did win longstanding red states like North Carolina, Indiana and Virginia in 2008 -- but the states at the bottom of Table 2 are states a Republican candidate has not won in most cases in over 20 years. New Hampshire flipped to George W. Bush in 2000, but has been reliably Democratic since Clinton carried the Granite state in 1992. Michigan and Pennsylvania have been fairly close in some election cycles over the last generation but both been in the Democratic column in the time since George H.W. Bush won the Keystone and Wolverine states in 1988.  For Wisconsin and Washington, one has to go back to Reagan's 1984 landslide to find the last time a Republican carried either state. And on the other side of this, Arizona voted for Bill Clinton in 1996, but for the last time the Grand Canyon state went blue, one has to go all the way back to 1948.

That said, those are all macro views that may fail to capture trends on a more micro level: that for instance Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (not to mention New Hampshire) saw large Republican gains in offices across the states in the 2010 midterm elections. [Is that a function of something growing at the grassroots for Republicans or was it attributable to Obama not being on the ticket?] All this is to say that this is a big list of swing states (185 total electoral college votes). There will be additions and subtractions over the course of the next year, but the list will contract more than it will expand. The contraction is more likely to include Arizona and Pennsylvania on one end of the list and Indiana and North Carolina on the other than it will for more traditionally volatile states like Ohio and Florida.

Note: Shockingly -- or not so shockingly -- enough, no one seems to be saying much of anything about former bellwether, Missouri.

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Does the Sotomayor Choice Make Texas a Swing State?

Matthew Dowd thinks it might, depending on how Republicans in the Senate handle the Sonia Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court by President Obama.
If they don’t get back to a place where they are getting roughly 40 percent net of the Hispanic vote, there is no way they can ever win,” [Dowd] said.

Now, Dowd was talking in national terms when mentioning that 40% barrier, but let's look at this within the context of Texas. Hispanics made up a shade more than a third (36%) of the Lone Star state's population in 2007 according to the Census estimates and comprised approximately one-fifth of the 2008 electorate there (based on exit polls). In raw data terms, that's 8.8 million Hispanics in Texas, 1.6 million of which voted. In November, Obama won 63% of the Texas Hispanic vote while losing by just shy of one million votes to John McCain overall in the state. That left Obama with a +450,000 vote "Hispanic margin." In other words, despite beating McCain by nearly half a million votes among Hispanic, the president still lost by one million votes in Texas.

But the question is: How many Hispanic voters would be energized by a controversial Supreme Court confirmation process involving the first potential Hispanic justice, and would that be enough to overcome that one million vote deficit? Possibly. On one hand, Texas is growing at a pretty good clip and a lot of that growth is Hispanic growth. But on the other hand, Texas, in a more competitive environment, would likely see increased turnout. The former is much more difficult to simulate than the latter, but let's look at turnout first and see if we can get at least half way to an answer to this question.

First, let's construct a model based on the 2008 election data we have. If we regress FHQ's final polling margin averages by state, number of electoral votes, and a state's party lean (a dichotomous variable where 1 = Democratic lean and 0 = Republican lean)* on the final turnout figures from 2008, we get a decent model for the purposes of prediction (The R-squared isn't great -- .3 -- but let's keep this simple.). In reality, Texas had a 54.7% (voting eligible population) turnout rate in 2008. Under this model, however, the Lone Star state is predicted to have had a turnout rate of 57.6%. In other words, we have some error present; most likely due to some level of omitted variable bias. Again, though, simplicity is the goal here, not elegance. That said, if we assume that Texas was a dead-heat in the polls leading up to the election (I dropped the +11.66 McCain advantage in the polls down to a +0.66 McCain lead), the turnout rate would have increased to 60.1%.

Now, if we assume the same exit poll distribution among racial categories prevailed in the Texas electorate -- 20% Hispanic, 63% of which voted for Obama -- the president would have inched approximately 50,000 votes close John McCain. That's a drop in the bucket when compared to a nearly one million vote deficit. But if we assume that the GOP caucus in the Senate balks at the Sotomayor nomination, damaging the party's standing with Hispanics even further, that mere drop in the bucket may turn into a tide against the GOP in state's with a dense Hispanic population. For example, if we assume, based on 2008 population and turnout statistics, that the Texas electorate was 25% Hispanic (instead of 20%), 75% of whom voted for Obama (up from 63%), the president would have increased his Hispanic margin from 450,000 votes to over one million votes relative to McCain. That half a million vote difference would have cut McCain's statewide advantage in half assuming all other racial categories behave as they actually did (in terms of percentages of the electorate) in the 2008 election.

The problem here is that this simulation is done in terms of the 2008 election; an election that is obviously in the history books. What's missing, then, is an accounting of the population growth to occur between now and 2012 (Oh, and the actual level of incitement a fight over an Hispanic Supreme Court nominee triggered. But that's a different story.). If you look at the Election Data Services estimates (Table B), it looks as if Texas has gained between 400,000 and 500,000 people every year since 2000. That would place the state's population at somewhere around 26 million people in 2012. If the same 60.8% of the population was voting eligible at that point -- and that doesn't include latent Hispanic voters activated by a court nomination fight -- there would be approximately 16 million voters in Texas in 2012. One thing to note is that we are assuming uniform growth across all categories of ethnicity. In other words, the expansion of the Hispanic margin between the Democratic and Republican candidates would be counteracted by a similar increase in the white margin. As noted above, though, the population growth will not necessarily be uniform.

If, then, we further assume the same 20% of the electorate is Hispanic, 63% of whom vote for the Democratic candidate, the Democratic Hispanic margin over the Republicans would grow to around one million votes. Assuming a 25%/75% split, as was done above, would increase that Hispanic margin to about 2 million votes. But is that bar too high or too low to account for active Hispanic voters moving over to the Democratic column or latent Hispanics being activated by a partisan battle over Sotomayor?

And, as always, will it even matter three years down the road when the next presidential votes are cast?

*The hypothesis here is that Democratic states -- especially solid Democratic states -- would see increased turnout regardless of competitiveness while solid Republican states would witness lower turnout rates.

Recent Posts:
Two Huckabee Slips in One Day?

Is Charlie Crist Running for Senate or Vice President?

Memorial Day Travel and the 2012 Bumper Sticker Battle

Monday, August 18, 2008

The New Ohio Poll and McCain's VP Choice

With Public Policy Polling's release of a new poll in Ohio last night, the current state of the presidential race took on a much closer feel. Let's look at yesterday's Electoral College Spectrum with that poll incorporated to get a better feel for the dynamics as they now stand.

The Electoral College Spectrum*
*Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.
**The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, McCain won all the states up to and including New Hampshire (all Obama's toss up states, but Michigan), he would have 299 electoral votes. Both candidates numbers are only totaled through their rival's toss up states. In those cases, Obama's number is on the left and McCain's is on the right in italics.
***Colorado is the state where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That state is referred to as the victory line

Wait, that looks exactly like yesterday's ECS. It does. That tie in the Buckeye state made the margin between Obama and McCain smaller there, but Ohio still slightly favors Obama. More importantly though, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio have inched closer to McCain of late, and those three states along with Virginia are the states upon which this race appears to be hinging at the moment. If either candidate gets all their current states outside of that four state block, they will need some combination of those four to break 270 electoral votes.

Here's where McCain's choice of a running mate comes into play. The Arizona senator could play offense in Colorado and Nevada by tapping Mitt Romney as his vice presidential nominee. The former Massachusetts governor would also help in his home state of Michigan. That potentially puts Obama in a real bind. McCain would be on the offensive in those two western states and Michigan and would have to play defense to hold on to Virginia, but wouldn't even "need" Ohio. Granted, if you look at the Spectrum, ceding Ohio and swinging Michigan to the right would cost McCain three electoral votes, but it would help him squeak by in the electoral college with a 271-267 advantage. And hey, Ohio is trending the Arizona senator's way.

Looking at the electoral college breakdown and vice presidential selection in that light makes me second-guess the pundits' thoughts about McCain's pro-choice running mate trial balloon in the Weekly Standard last week. Did that comment indicate Ridge and/or Lieberman or was it referring to someone who has moderated his views on the abortion question, Mitt Romney? There are certainly other issues surrounding Romney, but would his religious background affect the ticket enough to swing any states Obama's way? My first impression is that it would not, though some states (especially in the South) would be closer than they have been in the past. In the end, that is a razor-thin electoral college margin, but at this point, it looks like Romney may be able to do the most damage to Obama and the Democrats in the electoral college. What he brings to the table, is what helps McCain the most in the electoral college.

This swoon period will end for Obama with the effect the combination of a VP selection and the convention helping. Will that effect be muted by the GOP convention that follows on the heels of the Democrats', though? Suddenly, August looks to be a challenging month for the second consecutive cycle for the Democrats. If the race looks tied after whatever bounce the GOP convention gives McCain, then the debates will likely play a crucial role in deciding who will win this election in November.

Speaking of convention bumps, Thomas Holbrook has a post up on his blog now that looks at the effects of past conventions and glances ahead to the upcoming conventions.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (8/17/08)

Which States are Underpolled in the Presidential Race?

The Electoral College Map (8/14/08)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Which States are Underpolled in the Presidential Race?

I mentioned in yesterday's electoral college post that I thought Nevada was a state that had been polled less often than than it should have been given how closely contested the Silver state appears to be. Of course I was called on to elaborate on that assessment.* Jack may have been asking for a simple gut reaction as to what I considered to be underpolled. However, I cannot help but over-analyze even the simplest of questions. Why provide a feeling when we can put the data we have to good use?

With that in mind, what is underpolled?

We can go about answering that question in a couple of ways. The simplest way is to take an average. With the release of Rasmussen's poll in North Carolina this morning, the grand total of polls in our data set (from Super Tuesday to now) is 553 polls. That's an average of just over 11 polls per state. States coming in under that line, then, are underpolled. Sure, that certainly isn't false, but that is rather a low bar to set in defining what "underpolled" means.

Another couple of layers can also be added to this. We would expect that the number of polls conducted in a state would vary based upon how close and how large the state was. We'll get to a state's size in a moment, but let's focus initially on the "how close" question. An easy way to extend the simple approach is to split the states into groups according to how close they are. Well, that's already been done for us. We can take an average of the toss up states, the lean states and the strong states with the expectation that toss up states would have more polls conducting in them on average than a lean state or a strong state (Likewise, lean states would have more polling than strong states.).

Average Number of Polls in States by Level of Competitiveness

StatesPoll Frequency
Toss Ups

And that is what we see in the table. So instead of saying the overall average of polls across all 50 states is 11 and there have only been 10 polls in Nevada. We can say that among toss up states, the average number of polls is 15.5 and Nevada has had only 10 polls conducted since February. That gives us a better definition of underpolled.

It gives us a better definition, but perhaps not a very efficient one. What about state size? We'll get to that in a minute. First, we can take a page out of FiveThirtyEight's book and run a regression with the number of polls conducted so far in a state as the dependent variable and the competitiveness that state (as measured by our weighted average) as our explanatory variable. In other words, we would expect that as the spread between the two candidates increases, the number of polls in that state decreases. That's exactly what the graph below depicts.

Predicted Polling Frequency
[Click Graph to Enlarge]

And with that handy regression line, we can predict where a state's frequency of polling should be given its level of competitiveness. So, Nevada, with ten polls thus far is about six polls under what we would expect in light of how close the race appears in the Silver state. But right there in that lower left quadrant of the graph are several toss up states clustered together. Alaska, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire and North Dakota all come in under that prediction line. Even lean states like New Mexico, South Carolina and South Dakota are underpolled.

And what about a state's size? The number of electoral votes at stake in a state -- a reasonable proxy for size in this context -- could affect the frequency of polling in a state as well. When we add that into the regression how are the things we see above affected? Again, that would add to our understanding of what is causing polling frequency to vary across states and ultimately increases the efficiency of our prediction. Competitiveness alone explains about a quarter of the variation in polling frequency and competitiveness and state size bumps that up to just over half. If we focus our attention on the 14 toss up states -- six of which were underpolled when compared to the original prediction -- only four were significantly underpolled: Indiana, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota. Alaska, Michigan and New Hampshire were about on par with where they would be predicted to be with 10, 17 and 13 polls, respectively. The remaining seven states could be considered "overpolled" based on competitiveness and state size. You cannot over poll in my opinion, but in a world of finite resources and comparatively speaking, that's the reality.

So, long story short, it is that small group of toss up (and some) lean states that are underpolled at the moment.

*Our readers and commenters here are great. I certainly have my own ideas of what to post here, but it is in my conversations both here in the comments section and with colleagues here at UGA that spur some of the great ideas that ultimately appear in this space. I don't say it often enough, but thank you all for your support of the site and for your contributions.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (8/14/08)

2008 vs. 2004, Part II: What Happened in the Final 100 Days in 2004 and What That May Mean for the Rest of This Campaign

2008 vs. 2004, Part I: What Things Would Have Looked Like 4 Years Ago This Time

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Identity Theft vs. Minority Vote Suppression: Proof Positive that Virginia is a Battleground State

The battle lines seem to have been drawn in Virginia in the race for the White House as Monday the commonwealth's GOP chairman added a new twist to the story of record Democratic registration in the Old Dominion and across the nation. Jeffrey Frederick accused the Obama campaign and local canvassing organizations of colluding to register new minority voters in Virginia and in some cases to do so fraudulently. His claims were based on the arrests last week of three canvassers accused of submitting fraudulent registration forms in the Hampton area of Virginia. Now, this sort of accusation isn't new. However, Frederick added that voters -- or potential voters in this case -- should steer clear of canvassers because of the potential for identity theft. Identity theft?!? Really? Of course, Democrats in the state were quick to counter Frederick's opening salvo with the old standby accusation that minority vote supprssion was Frederick and GOP's aim.

This appears a fascinating development until it is recalled that Virginia was a member of the confederacy and no stranger to racial tensions in the electoral arena. Honestly, this is simply an extension of the back and forth between Democrats and Republicans in the state during the 2006 midterm elections. That George Allen/Jim Webb race for the senate was never lacking in racial cues; from Allen's "macaca" slur to the accusation that Webb had used the N-word. The addition of the identity theft angle, though, is a clever one meant to subliminally seep into the electorate's consciousness in a way similar to the way Obama's recent trip overseas has been purported to have advanced the idea of Obama as acting president.

But again, this is a logical extension to what we have seen during recent electoral cycles. Frederick's comments cannot neceessarily be equated to the efforts of fictitious groups to caution minority voters that even minor legal infractions disqualify voting, but in the minds of Democrats, they operate on the same plane. That those events (see link above) occurred in Wisconsin, a swing state in its own right recently, furthers the idea that Virginia is, indeed, a closely contested battleground for this cycle. And it is, surprisingly or not. The demographics in the state have certainly shifted with the African American voting bloc coalescing with a growing Democratic bastion in Northern Virginia to pull the state toward Democrats; toward the Democrats and into the purple. And in a competitive environment, the onus is on the parties to find potential voters to swing the state in one direction or another. That's about the time voter fraud accusations start to fly.

Related: FiveThirtyEight on the Tim Kaine as VP speculation.

Recent Posts:
Iowa and Nebraska: The Caucus Question 2008 Wrap Up

An Update on the Rasmussen "Leaners" and a Look at How They Affect the Electoral College

The Electoral College Map (7/27/08)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is Florida a Swing State?

The answer to that question depends on several things. However a few things stand out as factors that could affect Florida's status in 2008 as a toss up state. First of all the Sunshine state is one that as been trending Republican. A simple look at partisanship within the state legislature over the last thirty plus years provides a clear illustration of this. Clear Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature gave way to Republican control in the mid-1990s. Following the elections in 2006, the GOP held an almost 2 to 1 advantage in both the Florida House and Senate (No wonder Democrats had no other recourse than to go along with the January 29 presidential primary that a GOP-controlled state government initiated.). The flip side of this is that voter registration in Florida during 2008 has favored Democrats by an advantage of over 6.5 to 1. Whether these two factors cancel each other out depends in large part on whether these newly registered Democrats actually become voters in November (and vote for Obama). Even if the newly registered don't turn out in high numbers, though, will GOP turnout be as depressed as their registration numbers have been? Neither issue is likely to be even close to determined until those 72 hour get-out-the-vote campaigns kick in as the calendar turns to November.

While we cannot definitively determine how each side will do on the turnout front in Florida, there are a couple of issues that the candidates will have to navigate there that will help us gain a glimpse into how close Florida may turn out to be. For McCain, if the Arizona senator continues to push offshore drilling as an answer to high gas prices. The latest Rasmussen poll out of the state (released yesterday) showed nearly 3/5ths of Floridians surveyed were in favor of drilling while only a third still favored keeping the ban in place. Despite that though, McCain has dropped in the Sunshine state of late at the very time when he is pushing his drilling plan the hardest. That may be coincidental because that downswing may have more to do with the issue that Obama must overcome in order to make Florida a true swing state.

On some level, Obama's trip abroad this week has sought to address his issue in Florida. The carefully managed trip through Israel and the West Bank when viewed through the lens of the Jewish American vote makes a lot of sense. Rev. Jeremiah Wright's anti-Israel comments have made some in the Jewish community wary of Obama. That is compounded by the fact that many of them (in Florida and elsewhere) supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Obama, then, is faced with having to woo a vital portion of the traditional Democratic coalition back into the fold. His ability to gain that segment's votes in Florida, thus keeping them from defecting to McCain or Nader, will have a lot to say in whether Florida will be close in November. I don't have access to the premium material on Rasmussen's site, but would be interested to see how the Jewish preferences came out in yesterday's poll that had Obama ahead in the Sunshine state.

Regardless, how these issues work out, they will help us to determine whether Florida will, in fact, be a toss up state in the general election.

Recent Posts:
The Deal with Those Rasmussen "Leaners"

The Electoral College Map (7/23/08)

The Electoral College Map (7/20/08)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bob Barr Through the Lens of the Zogby Polls

Yesterday's look at the electoral college map following the inclusion of the polling data from Zogby generated a good amount of chatter concerning the wisdom of averaging in internet-based polls. As I said, both in the post and in the comments, these data points may prove to be aberrations, but they have not significantly altered the state of the electoral college map. So, while the Zogby numbers should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt, I don't mind including them in FHQ's weighted average.

Having said that, let's use the information gleaned from the Zogby polls to open up a discussion about Bob Barr's presence in the presidential race as the Libertarian candidate. First let's revisit the table from yesterday's post and include the Barr numbers in each of the 34 states polled.

New Polls w/Barr (July 6-9)*
AlabamaZogby Interactive+114
ArizonaZogby Interactive+37
ArkansasZogby Interactive+24
CaliforniaZogby Interactive+205
ColoradoZogby Interactive+28
ConnecticutZogby Interactive+165
FloridaZogby Interactive+46
GeorgiaZogby Interactive+68
IllinoisZogby Interactive+205
IndianaZogby Interactive+17
IowaZogby Interactive+48
KentuckyZogby Interactive+53
LouisianaZogby Interactive+74
MarylandZogby Interactive+246
MassachusettsZogby Interactive+255
MichiganZogby Interactive+146
MinnesotaZogby Interactive+168
MissouriZogby Interactive+26
NevadaZogby Interactive 09
New HampshireZogby Interactive+310
New JerseyZogby Interactive+133
New MexicoZogby Interactive+169
New YorkZogby Interactive+214
North CarolinaZogby Interactive+94
OhioZogby Interactive+57
OklahomaZogby Interactive+59
OregonZogby Interactive+166
PennsylvaniaZogby Interactive+105
South CarolinaZogby Interactive+16
TennesseeZogby Interactive+57
TexasZogby Interactive+36
VirginiaZogby Interactive+55
WashingtonZogby Interactive+135
WisconsinZogby Interactive+104
*All polls from Zogby International. Follow link and click state for poll data.

Across all 34 states, Barr averages exactly 6%. [Just for fun, I drew the median and mode from the data as well. The median was also 6% while both 5 and 6 were the most frequently occurring values; each showing up in the data seven times.] What do we see (and where do we see it) above the midpoint of 6? Though we may discount the Zogby numbers, it still may be beneficial to examine the Barr patterns we see in this data just as a crude baseline of comparison. [That baseline may need to be tweaked moving forward as we here at FHQ begin to take notice of his numbers in other polls.] Here are the states where Barr received more than 6% support in the recent round of Zogby Interactive polls:

New Hampshire
New Mexico

Once the first one on the list (Arizona) and the last two (Oklahoma and Tennessee) are removed, what's left is a fairly centralized group of states. Arizona, though it has been trending ever so slightly in Obama's direction lately, just isn't going to happen for the Illinois senator (and if it does, we are looking at a substantial victory for Obama and the Democrats). Similarly, both the Sooner and Volunteer states are too far gone (even at this point) to go any way other than for McCain. The other nine states, though, are among the two regions we have been discussing as toss up states. On the one hand, you have the western group of states, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. And on the other, there are the midwestern states of Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio. Once you throw in ever-independent New Hampshire and Barr's home state of Georgia, you have a pretty interesting group of states. So if you're the McCain campaign, and if these polls provide an indication of where Barr is doing well (even if overstated), you cannot be too terribly encouraged about Barr polling well in swing states. As I said about Colorado and Iowa specifically yesterday (and can be broadened to include these other seven states), Barr's success directly and negatively affects McCain's ability to compete with Obama in many of these states. Barr takes enough Republican support away from McCain in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada and Ohio to bring Obama to within varying levels of striking distance (Georgia is the only state among these not considered a toss up right now by FHQ.). And in Iowa and Minnesota, two states often mentioned as toss ups, Barr potentially eats into McCain's support enough to provide Obama with a comfortable lead.

Even if Barr's support is exaggerated in these polls, if they are anywhere close to being indications of where the former Georgia congressman is performing well, then McCain may very well find it extremely difficult to cobble together enough states to add up to 270 electoral votes. One thing is for sure, I'll be keeping an eye on how Barr is doing in these and other swing states to get a sense of how (and how much) he may be affecting the race between McCain and Obama.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (7/9/08) [Update]

Polling Alert

Jesse Helms and the Current American Political Climate